Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Expendables (Movie Review)

Having given his Rocky and Rambo franchises one last successful hurrah in recent years, Sylvester Stallone decided to put a nice and tidy bow on the over-the-top 1980s action movie phenomenon with his self-directed homage to the genre, The Expendables.

Stallone gathered up some of his old and new action buddies for a fun romp of a film that could have been lifted straight out of of 1985. A few of his 80s action rivals, such as Bruce Willis and "the" Arnold, make small, tongue-in-cheek cameos in the film. But, of the well-known 80s stars, it seems only Stallone's pharmaceutically enhanced, leathery body was capable of the punishment this action-heavy movie would produce.

So, bring in the new blood. Jason Statham and Jet Li are the closest friends to Stallone's character in the movie and they get the most screen time. The other action-ready expendables are made up of Randy Couture, of mixed marital arts fame, and the hulking Terry Crews, of the Old Spice commercials. Mickey Rourke attempts to steal the award for most leathered and steroid enhanced but he only plays a retired member of the crew who gets to cry, tattoo, and give advice.

Dolph "I will crush you" Lundrgren is the loose-cannon of the group who has fallen on hard times and can not be trusted. He plays a small, but pivotal role in the film.

If you've seen any 80s action film you know the general plot of this film. It goes something like this: bad dictator, people in danger, things and people get blown up, heroes come in, bad people and bad things get blown up, drink beer to Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Stallone does inject a little heart and sappiness into the story so it's not all guts and glory but for the most part it's lots and lots of action.

Two memorable moments stood out for me from the film. The first was Terry Crews' ridiculous gun. If you have seen the movie Predator, you may remember the amazing gun that Jesse "The Body" Ventura utilized to mow down half of the jungle. Well, Terry Crew's gun is that set to a 11. When he shows up with it and literally starts eviscerating people, well, it's a thing of pure beauty.

Before I chronicle that other amusing part of the movie, I have to mention that Stone Cold Steve Austin plays a heavy for the bad guys. He kind of skulks around and is menacing and you know that sooner or later he is going to battle it out with the expendables. He actually has one hell of a fight with Stallone that ends in kind of a stand still but I think Stone Cold got the better of Rocky.

However, this is not the last man-to-man fight that Steve Austin has in the film. Nope, out of nowhere he has a quick and brutal confrontation with Randy Couture. Now, Couture is by now means a main person in the expendables crew. He has a few amusing lines but for the most part he's just another body in the group. But, in real life he was a legitimate badass college wrestler and as soon as he started mixing it up on screen with one of the most famous WWE, a la fake, wresters of all time, I thought the outcome would be extremely interesting.

In any other action movie, a main bad guy like the one Austin was portraying would have quickly and brutally killed Couture's character in order to have a real emotional scene of the villain killing a likable good guy. Yet, in an obvious attempt at stating to the world that a real wrestler would never lose to a fake wrestler, even in a fantasy, macho-male action movie, Couture bests Stone Cold in a shockingly quick and nasty way. I laughed out loud at the audacity of the scene but it was still highly entertaining.

The Expendables is a great throwback film and I think Sylvester Stallone succeeded in what he set out to make. I actually hope he's able to make a sequel or two as all the characters are really enjoyable to watch and things blow up real good.

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